26 Abril 2011
del Sitio Web
Profesionales de la mente concluyen que la depresión, siempre y
cuando no acaba con nosotros, puede eventualmente traer importantes
beneficios para la identidad de una persona.
Constantemente escuchamos sobre las inmundicias de una abstracta y
popular psico-entidad llamada depresión.
Sin embargo, un grupo de
expertos esta promoviendo una controvertida versión para entender
otro aspecto de este fenómeno: los beneficios tangibles que el
atravesar por un periodo depresivo, y superarlo, puede implicar.
Pero la polémica desatada en torno a esta postura se debe a que la
depresión realmente puede ser un estado mental peligroso ya que
conlleva a tomar decisiones equivocadas que resultan fundamentales
para trazar el rumbo en la vida de una persona, o incluso puede
terminar, como se ha comprobado en muchos casos, en un acto de
No obstante este grupo de expertos sostiene que la depresión
superada (haciendo énfasis en este término complementario) puede
significar un fortalecimiento de la mente y del espíritu de un
individuo, y ayuda a consolidar su identidad.
“Si estás deprimido,
lo cual por definición se refiere a una parálisis de la motivación,
será difícil ver cualquier consecuencia positiva. Pero yo creo que
las personas que la atraviesan salen fortalecidas. Puede servir como
un catalizador por que has mirado por el precipicio y observado el
vacío” afirma la especialista Marjorie Wallace.
Pero esta no es la primera vez que un experto sostiene esta teoría.
Hace un par de años el profesor
Jerome Wakefield, de la Universidad
de Nueva York, argumentó en su libro “The Loss of Sadness: How
Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow Into Depressive Illness” que si
abrazamos la depresión esta se puede convertir en un invaluable
motor para mejorar nuestra vida.
Por otro lado un estudio holandés
sugiere que la gente que puede dialogar mejor con la vida, y con sus
imprevistos, son aquellos que alguna vez han experimentado un
periodo depresivo, mientras que un estudio de la Universidad de Duke, realizado en 2002, confirmó que las mujeres que padecen
depresión moderada tienden a vivir más tiempo ya que aparentemente
aprenden a tratar mejor con las variables de la vida cotidiana.
Esta idea de alguna manera remite a la proyección arquetípica del
héroe, o heroína, que viaja al inframundo, en este caso al interior
de su mente, y tras superar monstruosas presencias y situaciones
aterrorizantes, eventualmente logran retornar a “tierra firme” con
un espíritu evidentemente fortalecido.
Pero, recordemos, para vivir
esta experiencia evolutiva es fundamental tener la fuerza para salir
de las sombras de nuestra propia psique.
Is Depression Actually Good For You?
26 April 2011
Experts now believe that mild to moderate depression may be good for
us - and even help us live longer. Rebecca Hardy explains how to
reap the benefits
Fighting depression can leave us with a more positive
We constantly hear how depression is blighting our lives, but some
experts have an interesting, if controversial, theory:
can be "good for us", or at least a force for good in our lives.
To anyone in the grip of depression, which can vary from mild to
severe, this may sound absurd - offensive even.
Clinical depression - a very different animal to "unhappiness" or "feeling low"
- is a
disabling, frightening illness that can ruin people's lives and
shake them to their core, but experts say that, for some people at
least, there can be benefits.
"If you have depression, which, by definition, is a paralysis of
motivation, it will be hard to see any positive outcome," says
Marjorie Wallace, founder and chief executive of SANE, who had
"But I believe that people who go through it
come out stronger. It can act as a catalyst to survival because you
have looked over the precipice and seen the abyss."
This may sound like wishful thinking, but the argument has been
Two years ago Professor Jerome Wakefield from New York
University caused a stir when he argued in his book
The Loss of Sadness: How
Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow Into Depressive Illness
that if we embrace depression it can motivate us to change
our lives for the better, helping us to learn from our mistakes and
appreciate what we want.
There is also research:
One Dutch study
suggested that people seemed to cope better with life's trials after
depression, with improved averaged ratings of vitality,
psychological health, social and leisure activities, occupational
performance and general health.
Meanwhile, a 2002 study from Duke
University found that women who had had depression were more likely
to live longer, fuelling speculation that the mildly depressed might
learn to cope better and avoid harmful situations.
Other experts cautiously agree:
"Depression can end in suicide, so
it is not to be taken lightly," says Bridget O'Connell from Mind,
"but many people say it helps them evaluate what is important. There
is often a sense of 'I know I can survive', which gives self-belief
This can act as a wake-up call, encouraging people
to change stressful patterns or situations.
"They may find a job
with shorter hours, or they may move in or out of cities."
According to Dr Paul Keedwell, a
psychiatrist and expert in mood
disorders at Cardiff University, depression can do this by "taking
off the optimistic sheen".
In his book
How Sadness Survived he
argues that this has an evolutionary basis, as depression can
benefit us by "putting the brakes on" and removing us from
situations that cause chronic stress.
"Though depression is horrible
and no one would choose to go through it, it can help us be more
realistic. And because it's so painful, we dig deeper and find out
how not to go through it again."
Antidepressants can help, adds Keedwell,
"But if you carry on doing the same thing you did to get
depressed, these antidepressants aren't going to work."
Tamra Mercieca, a performance coach and author of
The Upside of
Down, is one person who, after having suffered with depression all
her life, which led to repeat suicide attempts, decided to make big
These included stopping working shift work ("one of
the major causes of depression"), seeing a life coach (to work
through the negative thinking) and daily exercise (to boost
endorphins). She also had weekly acupuncture and laughter clinics
and made sure she was eating healthily and doing what she loved (in
her case, writing and drumming).
She now says she feels thankful for her depression.
the illness, I gained skills that have helped for other obstacles. I
had negative beliefs I needed to work through: I was a perfectionist
and nothing I did was good enough, but now I have a very positive
relationship with myself.
Depression has helped me to help others.
Seeing how effective neuro linguistic programming, time-line therapy
and therapeutic hypnosis were in my recovery, I am now a performance
coach, helping people overcome depression."
According to Wallace, many people who have experienced depression go
on to be more empathetic.
"It can also make them more aware of other
dimensions to their lives which are not so reliant on everyday
measures of failure and success."
Others, however, feel there are dangers in presenting depression in
Journalist Linda Jones, who regularly blogs on mental
health (in Breaking the Silence), and has experienced depression
herself ("a debilitating agony"), thinks that people may think it
applies to everyone with depression,
"and that people with depression
need to be more resilient, which plays into a stereotype that to
suffer from depression you may be weak in the first place. I'm not
and nor are millions of others, we have just been ill.
hasn't made my life better, it has made it worse. I am resilient,
hardworking and focused anyway. When someone tells me this makes my
life better, I question if they understand the depths I have fallen
"Not everyone can feel any benefit from depression. It
can depend on the length and severity, or some people may not
respond to treatment. But there are others for whom it has been a
O'Connell agrees that we need to be careful in interpreting the
"Some people self-report that they feel better after
depression, but after a bad episode they are bound to say that in
comparison to how low they felt during the illness."
There is also
the recurrence rate, which can be as high as 75 per cent for people
who have had severe depression in the psychiatric service, but in
general is much lower than that.
"People may feel better for a while
and then have another bout."
What all experts agree on is that getting good support is crucial to
"The most important thing for
recovery and future resilience is the support of family and
friends," says O'Connell.
And for anyone struggling with a loved
one who is depressed?
"Keep the communication open so they
feel they can talk, but try to get support yourself as it is
distressing watching someone you love struggle. There is a
positive side, however.
Most people do recover, most don't have
recurrent episodes, and, anecdotally, many people say they
emerge more resilient and able to take control of their lives."